Commentary

Boomerang: TV Firms' Political Contributions Come Back As Media Buys

Almost half of all the $15.2 million in entertainment contributions politicians are getting this year come from cable and broadcasting companies--companies that sell advertising time.

So that means even if a company's political agenda doesn't become a reality--if a man, woman, or proposition isn't voted in--money can still come back to them indirectly.

Time Warner, Comcast Corp., Clear Channel, Viacom Inc., Walt Disney Corp., News Corp., Sony Corp. and Bresnan Communications sell advertising time--and all have contributed significantly to that $15.2 million so far.

Perhaps the biggest percentage of those contributions goes into buying advertising time. What does this mean? It's kind of like buying back your own stock. One hand is feeding the other, which is what any good honorable business does when it's looking for a political hand.

The group that publishes this data, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, says there are, of course, other agendas for media companies--like trying to sway issues such as the telecommunications reform legislation, which is working its way through the Senate, as well as combating the new indecency laws that come attached with new heavy fines.

There's another incentive. Media companies figure the best way to the heart of a politician is through these words: cheap media. That's because, by law, broadcasters are required to offer politicians TV commercials for the lowest possible price.

Low media prices aren't exactly what media companies are looking for--but in the current lean and confusing advertising growth periods, it is better to have a spot sold than not at all.

Through the goodness of their hearts, through their honorable good-natured contributions, good things can happen to good businesses.

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